Post 9/11, Highest Military Honor Grows Scarce

The highest military award has gone to only five—and all posthumously
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 26, 2009 12:40 PM CDT
Medal Of Honor Ribbon and, from left to right, the Army, Navy, and Air Force medals are shown in this photo from the US Military.   (Wikimedia Commons/US Military)

(Newser) – The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have produced only five recipients of the Medal of Honor, all of whom died as a result of their heroism, the Military Times reports. Pentagon stinginess with the highest military honor in the post-9/11 era frustrates service members who say a politicized, stringent, and lengthy review process has denied recognition to some who deserve it.

In the previous century, around two to three Medals of Honor were awarded per 100,000 servicemen. That has dropped to literally one in a million. Some credit the nature of this decade’s wars—“It’s hard to be a hero against an IED,” said a retired Army officer.  But others point to exceptionally narrow criteria and a review process quick to deny awards proposed for non-military reasons. "They decided that the Medal of Honor should go not only to people who are brave, but pure,” said one former Marine.